6 Tips for the Beginner Art Collector (or for Anyone Buying a Painting)

MovingSpaces1_SmDo you want to start an art collection or did you see a painting that you would love to purchase but are unsure what to ask or what to look for in your investment?

Don’t fret because you are not alone.  There are many people with the same problem.  Some people will walk away from a painting even though they love it because they are unsure about their purchase or are embarrassed to ask the questions.  Let me begin this article by saying that artists love to talk about their work so bring on the questions.  And if the gallery doesn’t have the answer, ask them nicely to ask the artist and get back to you.

Here are 6 helpful tips to consider in deciding that purchase.

1.  Follow Your Intuition
First things first!  If you can’t keep your eyes off that painting, then your gut is telling you that you have a connection with it.  It is speaking to you in some way whether provoking a memory or a pleasant experience, etc.  If this happens to you, you might want to consider purchasing it because when it finds a place in your business or home, you will relive that experience every time you view it.  What more could you ask for in a purchase?

2.  Don’t Be Swayed By a Low Price Tag
There are many steps and processes to creating a painting that will stand the test of time.  If you are considering your painting as an investment, and not just something to match the sofa, then you need to ask some important questions of the artist or gallery owner.

Beware of low price tags.  The artist either hasn’t taken the steps (plus time) needed to prepare the work as it should be as an investment for the buyer or they don’t value their work.  In either case, the buyer is the loser in this transaction.  Also, beware of artists who give steep discounts on their work.  Investors don’t get the investment value on their piece if they can buy it cheaper if they wait until the artist has a “SALE”.

Professional Rule #1: Artists should not lower their prices because it lowers the value of their other client’s investment in their work who are already collectors.  Collectors want the value to go up, not down!

3.  Preparing the Canvas, Board or Paper When Using Acrylic or Oil
When using acrylic and/or oil, the surfaces above should be prepared with acrylic Gesso as a binder that makes sure that the paint layers bind with the surface.  For my canvas or board surfaces, I usually apply 4-5 layers of gesso before applying the acrylic paint.  Gesso, however, should not be used as a white paint in the actual painting.  Be sure to ask the artist about surface preparation.

4. When Paintings Have Some Collage Elements
Adding collage to paintings is a technique used by many artists today but also by many famous artists of the past as well, such as Picasso and Matisse.  Collaged elements and papers start a debate in itself so I will leave that for now.  My best advice is to make sure that the right adhesives have been used to glue the elements down on the painted surface.  Not all glues are advisable for all surfaces.  For an acrylic painting I used gel mediums or the acrylic paint itself as a glue.  And I always apply a varnish or medium on the top of the collaged item to protect it from harm.

5.  Storing Paintings
I love rotating out the paintings on my walls every so often to get a whole new look.  But, what do you do with the painting(s) that are retired for now?

They should be stacked in a place away from traffic patterns so they don’t get damaged, and in a way that neither points, objects or the hanging wires are penetrating the canvas.  Otherwise the canvas will form dent marks which don’t come out of stretched canvas and will crack the paint surface.  I have bought tall, thin, moving boxes and stored my paintings in those but I leave the top open or create holes in the cardboard because canvas likes to breathe.

Temperature is another factor.  Paintings need to be stored in an area where the temperature is moderate, not cold or hot.   The stress caused by extreme temperatures will break down the paint, as well as, warp the wooden, stretched frame.  I recommend buyers of a painting to go right home with it because the temperature in your car on a warm day can warp the frame so that it will not lie down flat to the wall and can ruin the paint.

6.  I Can’t Afford it Right Now.  What Are My Options?
I don’t know about other artists, but I will take payments on a painting(s) over a period of time and will hold the painting for the buyer until it is paid in full.  The period of time (up to 6 months) depends on the price.  And if a client buys more than 1 painting they will get a discount on their additional purchase at the time.  If you really love that painting, ask about options to owning it.

There is nothing more rewarding than finding a piece of art that speaks to you every time you walk in the room.  I hope these tips make your buying  adventure a better experience and protects your investment for future generations.

If you know of another person who you think would like to have these tips for their art buying experience, please share this blog post with them.  And if you would like to see if my art speaks out to you, please visit my website and view my portfolio.

Author: Joyce Wynes

Fine Artist and Illustrator

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